Scientific collections at Humboldt-Universität

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin owns a large number of collections used in the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities. They are maintained and cared for at various university institutions, including departments, faculties and libraries. These institutions also expand the collections and use them in a variety of different ways for teaching and research and in exhibitions.

This website provides visitors with an overview of the collections, their availability to the public, the activities associated with them and where to get more information. Through this page, you can access the websites of the individual collections themselves, as well as find links to projects that span several collections and that are intended to make them accessible.

For example, in addition to the subject-oriented databases that cover some of the collections, since 1999 the Helmholtz Center for Cultural Techniques has maintained the Kabinette des Wissens (“cabinet of knowledge”; available in German only) database, a central database covering current and former Humboldt-Universität collections. The focus of the database is on objects related to zoology and medical history, portraits of scholars and graphic images, as well as archival sound recordings.

Since 2004, the database at the Helmholtz Center also includes data about collections at Germany's other universities. In the database, you will also find information about former collections at Humboldt-Universität, in addition to the current collections.

Additional collections that have a historical and institutional connection to Humboldt-Universität can also be found at the Berlin Museum of Medical History and other institutions that are part of the Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, as well as at the Museum für Naturkunde - Leibniz Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity Science at Humboldt-Universität.

List of 33 active collections in alphabetical order:

  • Arboretum Humboldt-Universität
    Established by nursery owner Franz Späth in 1879, the Humboldt-Universität arboretum today harbours about 4000 species and varieties of live plants from around the world, of which 1200 are trees. The collection is used for teaching, research and public education about the environment. The collection includes a herbarium with about 5000 specimens as well as an extensive collection of botanical specimens and archival documents.

    more information on this collection...

  • Archive for Alternative Culture
    In 1995, the Institute for European Ethnology established the Archive for Alternative Culture after it inherited a large number of materials from the Josef Wintjes Literary Information Centre. Since then, the archive has been expanded through the addition of many diverse collections and today includes newspapers, magazines, pirated editions of books, readers, posters, flyers, graphic representations, photographs and videos as well as sound recordings dealing with the new social movements in Germany.

    more information on this collection...

  • Archive of Continuing Education Programm Berlin/Brandenburg
    The continually updated and expanded research collection includes programmes and informational materials collected from about 370 institutions in Berlin and 150 in Brandenburg since 1990. It serves as a basis for future structural analyses of the continuing education market.

    more information on this collection...

  • Archive of Curative Education
    The Archive of Curative Education (HPA) comprises a historically significant inventory of c. 6,300 written works from the subjects of general education, of special and remedial education and the disciplines psychology, sociology and medicine in the period from the 18th century to 1945. The collection is made up of various donations and includes nationally and internationally unique documents (files, magazines, bibliographies and monographs), including unique gifts of significant protagonists (like Max Kirmsse, John Trüper) of rehabilitation sciences.

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  • Archive of Progressive Education
    Housed at the Research Platform for Educational Reform, the Archive of Progressive Education is a research and study collection of documents organised according to the three phases of modern progressive education, education reform and the development of theories of education. The holdings encompass original documents bequeathed to the archive, documents from progressive, laboratory and research schools, numerous publications, and copies of holdings at other archives.

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  • Archive of the Regional Institute of Berlin-Brandenburg Folklore Studies
    The archive contains documents from the ethnographic research institutions of the academy and university from the GDR period. Research projects (such as the one on the Magdeburger Börde), survey activities (e.g. »old buildings in a new village«) and materials from renowned scientists as well as the W. Jacobeit photographic archive of farm implements are featured in the archive. The collection’s Richard Beitl materials, including lecture transcripts and papers from his seminars, are unique.

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  • Christian Archaeological Collection
    The collection encompasses individual objects from the teaching collection of the former Museum for Christian Archaeology and Art, which is primarily composed of images, models and plaster casts, in addition to many originals. Most objects were lost in the Second World War. Today the surviving collection includes about 5000 glass slides, including about 250 photographs by Nikolas Müller (1857 – 1912) of the excavation of a Jewish catacomb in Rome.

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  • Collection of Historic Images of Palestine
    These approximately 2000 large format glass slides document Palestine at the beginning of the 20th century. The collection was started by Hugo Gressmann. It includes Gressmann’s own photographs and those he commissioned, supplemented by holdings of other research projects. The collection is thus outstanding in regard to its variety of motifs and documentary approaches.

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  • Computer Collection
    Founded at the Center for Applied Statistics and Economics in 2000, the collection includes computers, mechanical calculators, peripherals and software related to the development of statistics and econometrics. The collection illustrates the interrelationship between technical and scientific progress. Its use in teaching is intended to portray the increases in knowledge over time that result from the interaction between computers, methods and data.

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